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Ubele

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 20, 2008
895
339
I have a 2019 27” i5 iMac with 24 GB of RAM and a 2TB Fusion Drive, which is in my home office. I also have a 2021 12.9” iPad Pro, Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Magic Mouse. I thought that combination could replace my 2015 MBP when I needed portability, so I gave my MBP to my dad. I love the screen on my iMac, and I love my IPP for watching videos when I’m on the treadmill and for creating art in Procreate. I’ve been using Macs since the early 1990s, so I’m used to Mac programs, but I’ve figured out how to translate much of what I do to the IPP. Some things are much easier on the Mac, though, and some can’t be done at all on an iPad.

So I’ve decided that the ideal combination for me would a laptop Mac for portability, an external monitor, and my current IPP system. I’m planning on selling my iMac and getting a refurbished laptop. I know I need 1 TB of storage and 16 GB of RAM. I’m debating between a refurbished 13” M2 MBA and a 14” M1 MBP with the same core configuration, which are pretty close in price and in Geekbench scores. I’m leaning toward the MBP, but I’d appreciate other people’s opinions. I’ve read several online articles on this, some of which recommend the MBA, and some of which recommend the MBP. Here is my use case:
  • I do all the usual stuff: email, web browsing, listening to music, etc.
  • I have an HP Windows laptop for work, but I’m able to do everything on my home Mac when I need to. I’ll be doing some traveling this year and be working part of the time. Rather than take my HP laptop and a Mac laptop, I’d rather just take a Mac laptop. For work, I use the MS Office Suite and Adobe InDesign, Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and Audition — not for anything really heavy, though.
  • For personal use, I’m an enthusiast photographer who uses Apple Photos, Affinity Photo, ON1, and Luminar Neo. I’m interested in light video editing with iMovie, but I might eventually want Final Cut Pro. I‘m a songwriter, and I also create music in Logic Pro — nothing overly complex or track-heavy (maybe 20 tracks maximum).
  • I keep my computers as long as possible, so I want to future-proof to some extent.
Based on what I’ve read, an M2 MBA (or even an M1 MBA) would be sufficient my needs. For music production, the lack of a fan in the MBA would be a plus, but I’m wondering how often the fan on the MBP would actually come on, given my relatively simple needs. The MBA would be $100 cheaper than the MBP, which isn’t much. I like how light and portable it is, as well as the color options. However, the MBP has more ports and a better display, which wouldn’t be a huge issue, since I’ll be using an external display when I need the real estate. So I’ve been going back and forth, and I’d appreciate feedback from people who have a similar use case. I love the MBA, but I think the MBP might be the better option.
 

tstafford

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2022
976
892
I think either will meet your needs. But others could chime in on the specific photo apps you use.

FWIW - I own a base model of each MBP14 M1P, MBA M2 and Studio. The MPB14 was the first one I bought and the MBA the last. Each plays a different role for me and is used daily (most time logged on the Studio).

If the prices are close, I'd lean to the MBP14. It's a better machine. The screen is superior, the I/O is superior and the display support is superior. The MBA wins on battery (by a lot) and weight. If the price delta was say ~$350+, I'd go the other way. But for similar money, I'd rather have the MBP mostly because the screen is just so, so much better. It's honestly not close. Also the MBP has a more solid feel to it. It just seems sturdier to me. Conveys a very premium experience overall.

The MBA is a very nice machine especially if you travel or regularly carry it around. The weight advantage is quite noticeable and the battery life is sufficient for me to go on an overnight trip w/o a charger.

No wrong choice but I think you'll enjoy the MBP14 if the weight doesn't bother you.
 

russell_314

macrumors 603
Feb 10, 2019
6,062
9,020
USA
Based on what I’ve read, an M2 MBA (or even an M1 MBA) would be sufficient my needs.
More than enough. I love my M2 MacBook Air. From reviews I've seen it's likely that the MacBook Pro would be slightly faster with video editing so if you need to meet some production deadline and waiting an extra two minutes is going to put you in a bad spot then go for the Pro. The Air feels much lighter and thinner in the hand. The specs don't do it justice. This would be my choice if weight is important.

For docking it to a desk ports aren't really going to be an issue if you use a dock. It should be one cable that goes to the dock and does everything. Your mouse, keyboard, and monitor stay there so you just plug in and go.

The M2 Air supports only one external monitor. This may be a non issue for you if you only use one. If you want to use two or more there's a workaround but from my understanding it's not perfect. The 14" MBP supports two or three depending on the model.
 

VaruLV

macrumors 6502a
Mar 25, 2019
630
558
Id go with MBP 14, given the wide variety of work youre doing on your computers+you said you'd be travelling with your Macbook and, imho, bit bigger and much better screen on MBP 14 would be well worth it while away from external display/displays.
Depending on usage scenarious battery life is not that much worse on it than on M2 Air given how much better battery life is on Apple M powered machines anyway.
Oh and depending on external temperatures in the longer run machine with fans could be better choice, especially for longer term.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 603
May 20, 2010
5,863
2,454
Los Angeles, CA
I have a 2019 27” i5 iMac with 24 GB of RAM and a 2TB Fusion Drive, which is in my home office. I also have a 2021 12.9” iPad Pro, Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Magic Mouse. I thought that combination could replace my 2015 MBP when I needed portability, so I gave my MBP to my dad. I love the screen on my iMac, and I love my IPP for watching videos when I’m on the treadmill and for creating art in Procreate. I’ve been using Macs since the early 1990s, so I’m used to Mac programs, but I’ve figured out how to translate much of what I do to the IPP. Some things are much easier on the Mac, though, and some can’t be done at all on an iPad.

So I’ve decided that the ideal combination for me would a laptop Mac for portability, an external monitor, and my current IPP system. I’m planning on selling my iMac and getting a refurbished laptop. I know I need 1 TB of storage and 16 GB of RAM. I’m debating between a refurbished 13” M2 MBA and a 14” M1 MBP with the same core configuration, which are pretty close in price and in Geekbench scores. I’m leaning toward the MBP, but I’d appreciate other people’s opinions. I’ve read several online articles on this, some of which recommend the MBA, and some of which recommend the MBP. Here is my use case:
  • I do all the usual stuff: email, web browsing, listening to music, etc.
  • I have an HP Windows laptop for work, but I’m able to do everything on my home Mac when I need to. I’ll be doing some traveling this year and be working part of the time. Rather than take my HP laptop and a Mac laptop, I’d rather just take a Mac laptop. For work, I use the MS Office Suite and Adobe InDesign, Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and Audition — not for anything really heavy, though.
  • For personal use, I’m an enthusiast photographer who uses Apple Photos, Affinity Photo, ON1, and Luminar Neo. I’m interested in light video editing with iMovie, but I might eventually want Final Cut Pro. I‘m a songwriter, and I also create music in Logic Pro — nothing overly complex or track-heavy (maybe 20 tracks maximum).
  • I keep my computers as long as possible, so I want to future-proof to some extent.
Based on what I’ve read, an M2 MBA (or even an M1 MBA) would be sufficient my needs. For music production, the lack of a fan in the MBA would be a plus, but I’m wondering how often the fan on the MBP would actually come on, given my relatively simple needs. The MBA would be $100 cheaper than the MBP, which isn’t much. I like how light and portable it is, as well as the color options. However, the MBP has more ports and a better display, which wouldn’t be a huge issue, since I’ll be using an external display when I need the real estate. So I’ve been going back and forth, and I’d appreciate feedback from people who have a similar use case. I love the MBA, but I think the MBP might be the better option.
The M2 MacBook Air ought to be fine for your use cases.

If you are worried that one of the two flavors of M2 (8 vs 10 GPU cores) won't cut it for you, then I'd probably advise you to consider a 16-inch MacBook Pro.

I generally discourage folks from getting a 14-inch MacBook Pro mainly because you're basically taking a 16-inch MacBook Pro and immediately making concessions (the fans will kick in sooner because those same chips have less cooling capacity by volume and the battery life will be less due to the battery being smaller due to the chassis being smaller).

I'm also a proponent of the 13-inch MacBook Pro given that, unlike the M2 Air, the cooling system is virtually unchanged from its M1 Predecessor and it has a fan (so as to prevent thermal throttling). But you sacrifice MagSafe 3 (and therefore free use of both Thunderbolt 3/4 ports while charging), a 1080p Webcam and you have the Touch Bar (which may be a minus for you). But, if you think an M2 MacBook Air won't cut it, odds are decent that an M2 13-inch MacBook Pro probably also won't cut it.
 

Ubele

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 20, 2008
895
339
Thanks for your thoughtful and informative replies, everyone! Your points are all valid, but you certainly haven't made my choice any easier. ;) The 16" MBP is overkill in terms of power, but the big screen might eliminate the need for an external monitor. Actually, I have a dual-input 4K monitor that I use with my HP work laptop, so I could use that with any Mac laptop when I'm not doing my day job. At the low end of the refurbished spectrum is a 1TB, 16BG, 8/8-core M2 MBA for US $1,619. At the high end is a 1TB, 16GB, 10/16-core, 16" M1 MBP for $2,079. I'll let you all know what I decide.
 

VaruLV

macrumors 6502a
Mar 25, 2019
630
558
The M2 MacBook Air ought to be fine for your use cases.

If you are worried that one of the two flavors of M2 (8 vs 10 GPU cores) won't cut it for you, then I'd probably advise you to consider a 16-inch MacBook Pro.

I generally discourage folks from getting a 14-inch MacBook Pro mainly because you're basically taking a 16-inch MacBook Pro and immediately making concessions (the fans will kick in sooner because those same chips have less cooling capacity by volume and the battery life will be less due to the battery being smaller due to the chassis being smaller).

I'm also a proponent of the 13-inch MacBook Pro given that, unlike the M2 Air, the cooling system is virtually unchanged from its M1 Predecessor and it has a fan (so as to prevent thermal throttling). But you sacrifice MagSafe 3 (and therefore free use of both Thunderbolt 3/4 ports while charging), a 1080p Webcam and you have the Touch Bar (which may be a minus for you). But, if you think an M2 MacBook Air won't cut it, odds are decent that an M2 13-inch MacBook Pro probably also won't cut it.
It's kind of odd that you mention 14 vs 16 cooling argument yet suggest fanless M2 Air at the beginning of your post.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 603
May 20, 2010
5,863
2,454
Los Angeles, CA
It's kind of odd that you mention 14 vs 16 cooling argument yet suggest fanless M2 Air at the beginning of your post.
The M2 was designed with that chassis and that particular cooling arrangement in mind. The M1 Pro, M1 Max, M2 Pro, and M2 Max were very clearly designed for the 16-inch chassis and cooling systems first and foremost, with concessions having to be made when those chips are in the smaller chassis. This is evident in the fact that, of the Apple Silicon Macs with a fan, the 14-inch MacBook Pro is the loudest (still quieter than an Intel Mac, but loudest of anything with Apple Silicon) and has the worst battery life.
 

VaruLV

macrumors 6502a
Mar 25, 2019
630
558
It was designed to not be used under the same load as MBP machines, thats why MBP's have fans, to be able to sustain longer, higher loads if need be.
 

Mike Boreham

macrumors 68040
Aug 10, 2006
3,799
1,819
UK
It was designed to not be used under the same load as MBP machines, thats why MBP's have fans, to be able to sustain longer, higher loads if need be.

True, but it can sustain high loads for long duration if required, but throttles back to a safe temperature in order to do this. So the MBP with its fans will do the same tasks faster. Obviously if this is a frequent thing or you need the fastest times you need an MBP.

It is an important distinction because some people think it is not capable of high load tasks at all, or maybe only for a few minutes.

The degree of throttling varies but for CPU tasks even in its throttled state it is as fast as some recent Intel Macs. See this post for an example.
 
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ilikewhey

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2014
3,595
4,640
nyc upper east
Thanks for your thoughtful and informative replies, everyone! Your points are all valid, but you certainly haven't made my choice any easier. ;) The 16" MBP is overkill in terms of power, but the big screen might eliminate the need for an external monitor. Actually, I have a dual-input 4K monitor that I use with my HP work laptop, so I could use that with any Mac laptop when I'm not doing my day job. At the low end of the refurbished spectrum is a 1TB, 16BG, 8/8-core M2 MBA for US $1,619. At the high end is a 1TB, 16GB, 10/16-core, 16" M1 MBP for $2,079. I'll let you all know what I decide.
the fan never kicked on during light tasks, only time i feel air being pushed is when im rendering in a project from final cut or something. edit: and even then, its not the same decibel level as the intel macs.
 
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ilikewhey

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2014
3,595
4,640
nyc upper east
The M2 MacBook Air ought to be fine for your use cases.

If you are worried that one of the two flavors of M2 (8 vs 10 GPU cores) won't cut it for you, then I'd probably advise you to consider a 16-inch MacBook Pro.

I generally discourage folks from getting a 14-inch MacBook Pro mainly because you're basically taking a 16-inch MacBook Pro and immediately making concessions (the fans will kick in sooner because those same chips have less cooling capacity by volume and the battery life will be less due to the battery being smaller due to the chassis being smaller).

I'm also a proponent of the 13-inch MacBook Pro given that, unlike the M2 Air, the cooling system is virtually unchanged from its M1 Predecessor and it has a fan (so as to prevent thermal throttling). But you sacrifice MagSafe 3 (and therefore free use of both Thunderbolt 3/4 ports while charging), a 1080p Webcam and you have the Touch Bar (which may be a minus for you). But, if you think an M2 MacBook Air won't cut it, odds are decent that an M2 13-inch MacBook Pro probably also won't cut it.
lol what? you only see concessions at the very very top end, and most of the time you only really see a difference if you pushing syth bench for over an hour straight. you're take on the 14inch is greatly exaggerated, i have been pushing my m1 max 14inch like hell with VM and tons of marketing rendering at work and it never broke a sweat, a m1 pro will definitely see less thermal output. the mbp 14 only only .7lb heavier than the mba, therefore making it the perfect balance between power/mobility.
 
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DHagan4755

macrumors 68020
Jul 18, 2002
2,200
5,939
Massachusetts
The MacBook Air is great however the 14" MacBook Pro is the sweet spot between power & portability. Since you like to keep computers as long as possible the 14" would give you the headroom with the extra cores that the MacBook Air wouldn't. Plus it has the added benefit of the extra I/O, better display, and speakers.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 603
May 20, 2010
5,863
2,454
Los Angeles, CA
lol what? you only see concessions at the very very top end, and most of the time you only really see a difference if you pushing syth bench for over an hour straight. you're take on the 14inch is greatly exaggerated, i have been pushing my m1 max 14inch like hell with VM and tons of marketing rendering at work and it never broke a sweat, a m1 pro will definitely see less thermal output. the mbp 14 only only .7lb heavier than the mba, therefore making it the perfect balance between power/mobility.
You are talking solely about thermals and, honestly, you are probably not running a high-end workflow/workload. Battery life is a concession regardless of workflow and workload. Not trying to diss your machine. People get seriously offended on here when you rag on their machine.
 

ilikewhey

macrumors 68040
May 14, 2014
3,595
4,640
nyc upper east
You are talking solely about thermals and, honestly, you are probably not running a high-end workflow/workload. Battery life is a concession regardless of workflow and workload. Not trying to diss your machine. People get seriously offended on here when you rag on their machine.
you're probably wrong consider you are judging my workflow from thermal performance.

i'm not the least bit offended, just trying to bring a more neutral view, i haven't seen anyone anywhere ragging on any thermal issues for m1 max 14inch let along the m1 pro to the point where its a serious issue that needed to discussed.

yes the battery is limited compared to mba, however if you are ok with 10-12 hour of battery life, which is already pretty good in my book consider the past battery life of intel macs. then there isn't really much concession, battery concession only exist if you are comparing to the the 16inch if you are comparison workload and workflow.

edit: and to be frank, you make concessions regardless of which macs you choose, if you choose similarly priced mba, you make concessions on the ports, speakers, screen, etc, if you choose 16inch, you make concessions on the weight and overall mobility. if you choose 14, you make concessions on the battery life.
 
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Ubele

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 20, 2008
895
339
Update: I’ve been going back and forth and everywhere in between on which Mac to get. I’m happy to report that I received a bigger-than-expected tax refund, so I just ordered a refurbished 16” M1 MBP with 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD. I’m going to sell my 2019 27” iMac, comparable models of which are selling for good prices on eBay and Facebook Marketplace. I love the 5K display, but I don’t need two Macs, and I have several apps that are only licensed for one Mac unless you pay for additional licenses (an annoying trend among apps). Yes, this MBP is overkill, but I keep my devices for a long time, and I’ve always preferred to buy more than I need and have room to grow. I’m stoked!
 
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